Thursday, October 30, 2014

A Little Extra Therapy

I've been wondering for awhile now if Ella might benefit from some extra therapy, in addition to the in-home services she has been getting basically from birth. Ella receives weekly in home speech therapy and twice a month occupational therapy as her main ones, but I had a feeling we could be doing more. I put off calling the Pediatric Therapy place in town all summer, because.. well.. it was summer, but when school started I finally made the call. I was nervous because Ella has always taken such a long time to warm up to people and since crying can give her reflux and an upset tummy I've never wanted our therapists to push her too far. I worried these new therapists wouldn't understand her or would want to push her beyond what I was comfortable. We had our consultation in early September and initially I was only asking for additional Speech Therapy. After our consult the therapists decided they really wanted to see Ella for OT and PT every week as well. At first I wasn't sold on the idea. After Ella started walking our once-weekly in home PT went down to once every 6 months. And now this therapist said we needed weekly again? I was hoping for more of a happy medium between once every 6 months and once every week, but I decided we'd try it.
So far Ella has been doing awesome in Speech and working really hard at trying to make her consonant sounds. Her therapist is so warm and friendly, yet doesn't let Ella get away with the usual tactics that get her off the hook-that sweet smile being one of them. :)
Sorry for the cruddy phone pics

In OT Ella has been doing a great job learning to cut with scissors and gaining fine motor skills.
And after we went a few times I saw that Ella loved the PT time in the big gym and as long as we're there it's not really a big deal to stay an extra half hour. I just have to keep this guy from destroying the place in the meantime..

They have a balance beam that rests on the floor and when Ella pushes her stroller over it, she practically runs across the entire thing without stepping off once.

One of the things the therapists really want Ella to be able to do is walk up stairs without holding onto the railing. Just this last Tuesday I saw her take a step up on this foam stair without holding on to anything for the first time ever. Yay!

We love her therapists there (and the ones that come to our home too!) and they have done a really good job at listening to our concerns and finding creative ways to help Ella. It's like it's their job or something..
Bonus: This place is like a 'free' play-all-day for Hudson.

After I saw how well Ella has been doing here I started to beat myself up a little, thinking maybe I should have started her with extra therapy years ago. Would she be further along by now if I had? Would she be talking? Know more signs? Be more confident? I guess I don't and won't ever know the answer to that, but since Ella has only in the past year or less really started to overcome her stranger anxiety I think we're probably starting this at just the right time for her. 
Don't you think we need one of these in our new basement???
Yes, yes you do..

The next thing I'm hoping Ella might be ready for is a Horse Therapy program in our area as well.
Now just to find an open day in this busy schedule..

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Mommy's Helper Too

Not only has Ella been quite the little 'Daddy's Helper' lately, but she also LOVES to help mommy around the house. Every time I try to sneak the broom out to clean up the mess on the floor (which is pretty often with this guy around..)

she is right there beside me, ready to help. 
She loves to 'sweep.'

And especially loves to dump the dustpan into the trash when we're done.

She's also gotten really good at setting the table and loves running back and forth between the kitchen and dining room getting stuff to set out. It's fun to watch her spread the plates around, kindof where they're supposed to go.

And probably my most favorite way she helps me around the house is when she helps me bake. Early on in Ella's diagnosis I never imagined this was something she'd be able to help me do someday. One time, years ago, someone on Facebook posted a picture of their daughter helping them bake banana bread. I stared at that picture and grieved, thinking I would never ever get to experience that with my own daughter. 
I never get tired of saying it (about Ella..) 
I was wrong.
Ella loves to stand on a stool and be right beside me when I bake. She's gotten great at cracking eggs, and she loves to stir things up and make dirty every single utensil she can grab. 

It sounds SO stereotypical, but guess who just might be getting her own broom/dustpan and apron for Christmas???

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Daddy's Little Helper

Every once in awhile I find myself comparing Ella to what the boys were doing at her age. I don't mean to. I don't want to. But sometimes the thought just sneaks in. Most of the time I can shoo it away, but every once in awhile I just can't shake it.

That was the case whenever I thought about what the boys were doing with their Daddy at Ella's age. At 3 years old they were his little shadows. As soon as he got home from work they were right by his side, push mowers ready, mud boots on, tool belts strapped, and ready to work. In some ways Ella is the same way. When Daddy gets home from work she runs to him and doesn't want to leave his side either. (They're all traitors..) But the difference with her is that often it's too difficult for him to bring her out to work along side him, at least if he actually wants to get anything done. Either she gets scared at a loud noise (like the lawn mower or tractor), only wants to be held and carried everywhere, or has a meltdown because you might leave her sight for a second. Now JJ spends a LOT of time with Ella, but when he wants to get something done outside she doesn't get to go along. And that makes me sad. Not only is it one more thing she can't do, but it means I'm stuck in the house with the 2 littles. Again.

Well, even after Ella started walking outside on her own on May 19, 2014 (but really.. who's keeping track?) it still wasn't always like she was running all over the yard from dawn to dusk like the boys were at that age. (And actually that's okay.. there's still that whole road-thing) She would walk outside sometimes, but it had to be on her terms. When she was done, she was done. And you were going to hear about it. Every day though, she got a little better at walking outside and more confident chasing her brothers around. She's always been "Daddy's Little Girl," but eventually by the end of the summer she was more than ready to tack on "Daddy's Little Helper" to her title. 

These days if we're outside playing and she sees Daddy working down in the barn, she takes off across the yard, over the driveway and into the barn to 'help.' She's gotten much better about entertaining herself if he's busy, not getting scared of the sound of the saw (riding on the tractor or lawn mower might take some more work) and loves LOVES to 'help' drill and measure.

Throughout the summer I started hearing less 'I'm going outside to work" and more "Ella's coming with me!" I would stand in the doorway and watch as these two headed out the door, tools in hand, ready for their next adventure. No, it isn't exactly what the boys were like at 3 years old. 
But it's still pretty darn sweet.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Walking Outside

The past few months Ella has been making a lot of progress and doing so many new things that I've been wanting to share with you, but haven't had the time. I'm going to break it up into a few posts, but I'll start with something she started right at the beginning of the summer, which I know.. was like 4 months ago, but whatever. 

This was the first summer in my entire life that I was really not looking forward to, actually kindof dreading. Typically I LOVE summer and live for the lazy, laid back days of popsicles and pools and campfires and s'mores. But not this summer. This summer was starting out with a clingy 9 month old who hadn't learned to walk or even crawl yet, and an equally clingy (or maybe even moreso?) 3 year old who had been walking independently for an entire year, yet still refused to do it outside. Since we love to be outside during the summer, even just in the backyard playing baseball with the older boys, that left me with two 'babies' who insisted on being carried everywhere, or at least holding Ella's hand while she walked around the yard. This might not sound all that difficult, but holding the hand of a stumbling toddler, while juggling a 20 pound baby on your hip, who at any moment tires of being held upright and flips upside down and acts like he wants down, but when you set him down screams with all his might to be picked back up again, only to flip back down the instant you pick him back up. Over and over and over, while Ella got frustrated that you were not doing exactly what she wanted you to and that very exact moment so started screaming herself and demanding to be picked up. To say the least, it was exhausting. Match that with 100 degree heat and humidity and just being outside with the two little ones was just plain hard. And not fun at all. And even if I could hold both of them at once, (which I basically did all the time before, but this is summer!) that doesn't leave many hands to do anything like play baseball with, nor would it be very safe.. those boys have a wicked fast ball. It left me feeling sad and a little desperate. I didn't want my older kids' summer to be a dud because I couldn't do anything with them because Ella and Hudson were just too hard to carry them both around everywhere if Ella refused to walk, but it was just so.darn.hard. to go many places or do many things. 

But even with my hesitation, time marched on and summer came nonetheless. The very first official day of summer break came and I was determined that it was going to be a good one. We were outside playing in the beautiful sunshine and I had been lugging Hudson around, walking with Ella while she climbed up and down the stairs, back and forth across the lawn, trying to climb the slide, then holding him more while I pushed her on the swing. Finally I had had enough, so I took her out of the swing and sat him down to give my aching arms a break. Of course immediately Ella seized the opportunity of a empty arm and wanted me to hold her while I pushed Hudson. I must have said no because I remember the tantrum that ensued. It was full of mind-rattling screaming, flailing on the ground and rolling in the grass, then screaming more when she got grass on her hands, then rolling and screaming because who knows.. In the meantime, Hudson was starting to fuss because he actually doesn't like to swing that much (I know!!) while the older boys were begging me to pleeeeease play baseball.. 

This was exactly what I had dreaded for this summer. 

I was feeling so disheartened and needed to just walk away for a minute. I couldn't possibly do this the entire summer. It's the first day of summer and already it's ruined, I thought. The entire summer is going to be miserable and there's nothing I can do about it, I pouted while throwing myself a pity party. I told Ella I would be right back and ran into the house to grab a drink (of water!!). Of course she was having a total meltdown when I left so I went inside, took a few deep breaths and prepared myself to go back out and deal with it. I straightened up and walked outside, expecting to hear the shrill sound of a 3 year old tantrum, only to be surprised to hear silence. What was going on??

I looked where Ella had been when I left her just a minute ago and she wasn't there. What??
Hudson was still swinging, but where was Ella?

I scanned the yard and there she was. Standing by herself. Outside. In the grass. Throwing the ball.

All of a sudden when she realized I wasn't going to help her anymore, she just took off.
She realized she could do it.
She played baseball with her brothers

ran around the yard,
(Insert major panic about her possibly running on the road. She hasn't yet.)

going down her slide,

pushing Hudson in the swing

and probably best of all picking me "flowers"

She ran back and forth from plant to plant bringing me these precious precious gems until I had a handful too full to hold and a heart that was bursting with joy too great to contain.

 This day will probably live on as one of the happiest of my life. I sat there and cried tears of joy and when Daddy got home? She ran down to the truck and met him on the sidewalk to give him a hug.

It has been so fun to watch her run around outside and become more independent this summer.
And my arms are thankful for the slight relief as well!